Opens Aug. 1 At The Newseum
The Newseum today announced plans to celebrate the 40th anniversary
of the 1969 Woodstock Music and Art Fair with "Woodstock at 40: The
Rise of Music Journalism." The exhibition, open Aug. 1 through Oct.
31, features rarely seen images from a trio of photojournalists -
including a 17-year-old Connecticut high schooler - who covered the
event, as well as other examples of media coverage, Woodstock
memorabilia and artifacts. In addition to a camera, press passes and
notes from the featured photographers, the artifacts include a
working list of the artists who performed and how much each act was
paid and other items from Woodstock concert promoter Michael Lang.
Rolling Stone called the Woodstock Music and Art Fair "the most
famous event in rock history." The Newseum's "Woodstock at 40"
exhibit invites visitors to consider how the event changed the way
that news media - and the rest of the nation - looked at rock music
and popular culture.
At the time, reports focused on traffic jams, rainstorms, food
shortages, drug use and crowd size. New York's Sunday News headlined
its story "Hippies Mired in Sea of Mud."
But according to USA Today rock critic Edna Gundersen, "The media and
the music industry were awakened by Woodstock and started to
recognize music as not just a frivolous and entertaining diversion
but as a growing cultural magnet and a commercial force with enormous
Newseum Executive Director Joe Urschel says that, "prior to
Woodstock, there were few reporters in the mainstream media who
covered rock music seriously. That changed very quickly after the
festival. Many of the reporters who did attend completely missed the
story, focusing instead on those things that seem insignificant now -
the traffic, the crowds, the weather. It was the equivalent of going
to cover the Super Bowl and neglecting to mention the football game."
"Woodstock at 40" focuses on the efforts of three photographers to
document the event.
Concert promoter Lang paid Henry Diltz $500 to be the official
photographer of Woodstock. Diltz arrived in Bethel, N.Y., two weeks
before the concert to capture the preparations and remained through
Jimi Hendrix's festival-ending performance. He then headed for the
offices of Life magazine and submitted hundreds of freshly developed
slides. "Woodstock at 40" features the three Diltz images as they
appeared - with full-page treatment - in the 1969 "Woodstock Special
Edition" of Life, as well as other images of the performers and crowd.
Mark Goff covered Woodstock as a 22-year-old reporter for
Kaleidoscope, a Milwaukee-based alternative newspaper that was
published in the late 1960s. Armed with a press pass, Goff had access
to the entire venue. His rarely seen photos feature extraordinary
snapshots of both the performers - Joan Baez, Ravi Shankar, Sly Stone
- and the crowds taken from the press pit located just below the
stage. Goff's images appear alongside his mud-splattered press kit,
press pass, concert pin and tickets.
The exhibition also features rarely seen images taken by reporter Dan
Garson who, as a 17-year-old journalist for his high school newspaper
in Connecticut, wrote the festival organizers for a press pass. To
his astonishment, he got one. Garson captured more than 300
photographs, only four of which were ever published. The rest were
forgotten in his parents' basement. "Woodstock at 40" features the
first public museum display of Garson's photos as well as the 35mm
camera he used, his notes and the letter Garson received from
Woodstock granting him a press pass.
The Newseum has produced an original, five-minute feature
presentation for the 90-foot-long screen in the museum's Robert H.
and Clarice Smith Big Screen Theater. The production mixes news
photographs and rarely seen network footage of the concert with
images taken by the exhibit's featured photographers. Interviews with
Barnard Collier, who covered the concert for The New York Times; Jan
Hodenfield, who covered for Rolling Stone; and USA Today rock critic
Edna Gundersen are mixed with music from the concert. The production
will run daily while "Woodstock at 40" is on display.
"Woodstock at 40" was made possible through the generous cooperation
of Rona Elliot and Genesis Publications, publisher of "Woodstock
Experience," along with Brad LeMee and the family of Dan Garson,
Woodstock executive producer Michael Lang, and photographers Henry
Diltz and Mark Goff.
On Saturday, Aug. 1, a local band assembled specifically to mark the
exhibit opening, "Woodstock Re-Covered," will perform music from the
historic concert in the Newseum's New York Times - Ochs-Sulzberger
Family Great Hall of News beginning at 2 p.m.
On Sunday, Aug. 9, Woodstock Music and Art Fair organizer Michael
Lang will offer a revealing look at how one concert brought a
half-million people to an upstate farm in Bethel, N.Y., and captured
the social and political spirit of the decade. After the program,
Lang will sign copies of his book, "The Road to Woodstock."
On Saturday, Aug. 15, former New York Times reporter Barnard L.
Collier will sort out fact from fiction about the historic concert.
Collier wrote about Woodstock as promoters searched for a location
and was on the scene when the final act took the stage.